Clyburn might excuse signing pledges, but I don’t

Over the weekend — before the wretched, useless “supercommittee” had failed completely to do its job — Jim Clyburn had a piece in The Washington Post setting out his views as a member of that panel. This bit jumped out at me:

I understand signing pledges and suspect that all of us have agreed to them at one time or another. But it is beyond me how one defines eliminating a preference or closing a tax-code loophole as a tax increase. Loopholes that allow extremely wealthy and sophisticated Americans to avoid paying any, or an appropriate amount of, taxes while the middle class gets squeezed and working people struggle to pay their bills are fundamentally unfair. That is the big issue and the main obstacles to accomplishing something of which we can be proud and by which our nation will be strengthened.

What Clyburn seems to be saying there is, I understand the games we all play as partisans, the ways we trade away our freedom to be intellectually honest, good-faith participants in the deliberative process, but I think I see the way around it for y’all…

Well, Clyburn might understand it, and even excuse it, but I don’t. Signing pledges preventing yourself from being open-minded and able to make decisions as an elected representatives in the future is completely inexcusable.

And so is this committee’s failure.

On the one hand, I feel a tad guilty getting on Clyburn for trying to see the other fella’s point of view, instead of just bashing Republicans as usual. But he’s seeing their point of view on partisanship itself. And for me, THAT is the “other side,” the enemy, the force to be opposed.

It’s touching that Clyburn also says in the piece, “My reply remains the motto of the great state of South Carolina: ‘Dum Spiro Spero.’ ‘While I breathe, I hope.'” I love my state’s motto. But I have practically no hope in that crowd up there.

America is disgusted, and right to be. And in next year’s election, you’ll see candidates of both parties try to run as outsiders, as a solution to the problem. But if electing them means sending more Democrats and more Republicans, how can that be a solution?

There has never been a better moment for the UnParty. Who wants to run?

15 thoughts on “Clyburn might excuse signing pledges, but I don’t

  1. Juan Caruso

    “And so is this committee’s failure.”

    Brad, the committee was rigged (majority = lawyers). I do not expect you to see this yet, but the outcome was NOT failure to compromise in the expected manner: increasing taxes on the ‘wealthy'(appearing to make more revenue available), while decreasing spending in out years (CYA spending as usual).

    The 7 elected lawyers were stymied. Had they gotten their way, taxes on the ‘rich’ would have been nominally increased, without a doubt. An age old secret within the tax profession (ask an older CPA), however, is that new legislation would also have provided new loopholes for sale by tax attorneys. What is left of the middle class would have been soaked, and may be yet, as it is not over yet.

    Don’t believe me? Believe insider reports like the non-partisan Kiplinger Tax Letter. The more things change the more they stay the same.

    The wealthy will still be wealthy, but the middle class will not be unscathed. Our savings (and perhaps yours) will be decimated when selling a home, cashing out your IRA, collecting that deferred compensation, etc. and suddenly finding yourself ‘wealthy’ for a tax year or two.

    Eliminating favorable tax treatment for the middle class (e.g. mortgage interest deduction is under discussion by the Lawyer-Political complex). Isn’t that thoughtful of them for our children and grand kids?

  2. Steven Davis

    They must not have introduced any physical structure or development that could have had Clyburn’s name put on it. Clyburn is nothing more than a black Donald Trump.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    When you sign a pledge not to legislate, then you are no longer a legislator.

    And BTW, even Norquist admitted that the “temporary” tax cuts instituted by Bush wouldn’t fall under his pledge because they were supposed to be — you guessed it — temporary.

    Some day people will wake up and call these “tax increases” what they really are: tax restoration.

  4. bud

    The time to get rid of the mortgage interst deduction has come. Seems like we’ve been over-encouraging people to buy houses. Homes are much more of a burden than an investment. With all the enormous maintenance costs for things like termite bonds, heating and air issues, roofs, taxes and insurance a house can suck the income out of even the largest bank account. So let’s not regard a house as an investment anymore but rather a choice as to where to live. Not sure renting isn’t the best way to go for many. Eliminating the mortgage deduction would help clarify that decision.

  5. Steven Davis

    Isn’t there an old practice of locking people in a room and telling them not to come out until they have a compromise? The longer they’re in there, the less comfortable you make it. They didn’t get selected to become a hung jury. They’ll quickly get tired of pizza and lemonade for their three meals a day.

  6. Steven Davis

    Who own’s the properties bud is suggesting? The government??? Sounds to me like he wants everyone to live in Section 8 housing.

  7. bud

    You have to love Grover Norquist disciples for their utter lack of even a basic understanding of the facts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent piece by our very own Jim DeMint:

    The federal government is now $15 trillion in debt, the country is mired in recession, unemployment is at record highs, but Democrats believe taxpayers must sacrifice more so Washington doesn’t have to. Even on the brink of fiscal collapse, Democrats want to take more from American families and businesses so the government can spend more, not less. That, in a nutshell, is why the Super Committee failed and why Washington is incapable of making any of the necessary reforms to get the economy moving again.
    -Jim DeMint

    Where to start. This is just so dishonest it is simply unbelievable that we can elect people like this to the United States Senate. Let’s start with the statements that are just factually incorrect, period. Mind you, this is not bud’s opinion it’s just a fact:

    “the country is mired in recession”

    That statement is absolutely false. The country has not been in a recession for at least a year and half, probably longer. GDP growth, while slow, is positive and has been for at least 6 straight quarters.

    “unemployment is at record highs”

    That’s true except for the entire decade of the 1930s, the early 80s and for later half of 2009. Unemployment by some measures reached an astonishing rate of 25% in 1933. It was as high as 10.8% in 1982 and in October 2009 was 10.1%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a rate of 9.0% on Novemeber 4, 2011. Although high it was nowhere near a “record” as Jim DeMint falsely claims.

    “Democrats believe taxpayers must sacrifice more so Washington doesn’t have to”

    Now what exactly does this nonsense even mean? How exactly do Democrats want to keep “Washington” from sacrificing? Does the city really care if spending gets cut or taxes increased? Come on Jim, at least try to say something that makes sense. Fact is Democrats are interested in the American people, not some vague reference to “Washington”.

    It is really astounding that people read this crap and put some measure of importance to it. It’s just so fraudelent and misleading. Yet it’s red meat to the masses who put stock in these types of nonsensical statements. Can’t we all just be a little bit honest here and make some well thought out statements that are factually honest and without all the demogogery? If DeMint wants to cut spending for programs that help people just say so and make an honest case for it. But then again that red meat probably carries more weight.

  8. Randy

    Reducing spending and raising taxes are not equally good things. With all the obsessive talk about the need to compromise on policy, it gets lost that sometimes one side’s ideas are simply better than the other side’s ideas.

  9. Brad

    Oh, they’re EQUAL all right, in the grand scheme of things. I just don’t think I’d call them equally GOOD.

    Equally BAD is more like it. Cutting government services and throwing public servants out of work on the one hand (or keeping them on without the resources to do their jobs), and raising taxes on people during a recession and likely further slowing the economy as a result are all pretty bad things. But they also might be the things to do under certain circumstances.

    What I can never respect is the “philosophy” — which is anything but, since the word means “love of wisdom” — that in all circumstances one must do X, and that in all circumstances one must never do Y. Such dicta might be defensible when we’re talking about activities that imply right or wrong, but raising and spending money are morally neutral activities. Sometimes it’s wise to do one thing, other times another.

    “Always cut taxes” or “always cut spending” are not IDEAS worthy of they word, any more than their opposites would be. Just in case that’s what you were thinking.

  10. `Kathryn Fenner

    “Raising taxes on people during a recession” — at issue were largely raising taxes on the so-called job-creators–more like the lay-off creators. The well-off can afford to pay more without plunging us into another recession. The elasticity of demand for what the upper-middle to upper classes spend on–are they really going to pull their kids out of private school because they have to pay an extra $100 a year in taxes? Not go out to eat? skip a vacation? Ha!

  11. Randy

    You are implying that cutting government spending means that you would lay-off public employees and/or take away the ability of public employees to do their jobs. This is not necessarily true.

    And it’s not “always cut taxes” as a matter of some sort of unjustified blind ideology plucked out of thin air. As you said, “sometimes it’s wise to do one thing” and as you also suggested, raising taxes during a recession would slow economic growth. So I must say I applaud those elected officials who say that slowing economic growth is a bad idea.

  12. Steven Davis

    There’s talk now that the Super Committee wasn’t able to do anything that they’ll just reduce the amount cut across the board. In other words, no $1.2 trillion cut. This country will be bankrupt before Obama leaves office. If investing, I suggest buying gold and silver… and ammunition.

  13. bud

    … in all circumstances one must do X, and that in all circumstances one must never do Y. Such dicta might be defensible when we’re talking about activities that imply right or wrong, …

    To the Norquist followers raising taxes IS always wrong. That’s the point. I don’t agree with them but I find it weakens Brad’s argument to put this in the context of absolute sin. Frankly I don’t ever think you can point to any human activity that is ALWAYS, under ALL circumstance wrong. Killing usually is but we make exceptions. Stealing is but there are certainly situations that could pass muster as ethically correct, like stealing an apple to feed a starving child. So let’s just say Norquist and his minions are wrong to push this pledge nonsense onto the American people, period.

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